Last week I went to London for an audition.
It was for a touring production of Hamlet, and if I'd got in, I'd've been playing both Claudius and the ghost of his murdered brother, Hamlet Sr. How "cool" (as they say) would that have been - to have triumphed in a one-man show about Hamlet's uncle, and then to have been cast to play the same role in Shakespeare's original!
Well, of course, it didn't happen - even though the audition, at least on the acting side, couldn't have gone any better. Granted, I stank fairly badly in playing the tin whistle, but then bringing an instrument was always an optional extra; as far as the compulsory elements went, I've every reason to think I impressed in the designated speech from the play (Claudius trying and failing in his attempt at prayer), in my own-choice bit of Shakespeare (Prince Hal's denunciation of Falstaff), and even in my a capela singing of ye ole sea shanty Liverpool Judies. Certainly, the three-person panel couldn't have been more attentive or supportive; there was nothing in their demeanour to suggest that I wouldn't at least get a call-back.
And that's the thing: people in these situations are so very brilliant at giving almost nothing away.
It occurs to me, looking back now on this and so many other auditions, that the situation is very much like the scene in 10 Rillington Place where Timothy Evans (John Hurt), awaiting execution at Pentonville Prison, goes before a panel of men with the power to save him. I don't recall specifically who these men may be - psychiatrists, perchance - but anyway, Evans is due to hang for killing his wife and daughter, and in the meeting he attempts to convince the panel that the slayings were in fact the work of his landlord John Christie (as brilliantly played by Dickie Attenborough). "It was Christie done it", he says - he keeps on repeating that "Christie done it", and the men soothingly respond, "Yes, old chap, we understand", or words to that effect. They really couldn't be nicer - and yet of course, once he's out of the room, they confer briefly before concluding that no, there's no reason to prevent "justice" from taking its course.
And that's just what it's like in auditions: you do your thing, they're really nice to you, and then they hang you.
Robert Cohen – a man in showbiz so stepp’d in that, should he wade no more, to go back were as tedious as go o’er. These are among his musings.